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Exclusive Feature: Agbonlahor on verge of being record-breaker

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Exclusive Feature: Agbonlahor on verge of being record-breaker


Gabby Agbonlahor has scratched his seven-year itch.

Now he is within touching distance of passing Dwight Yorke's record as Villa's leading Premier League marksman.

Seven years after scoring on his Villa debut at Everton, he celebrated his anniversary with the opening goal in Saturday's crucial 3-2 victory over QPR.

That took his total Villa haul to 70, including 59 in the Premier League -just one short of Yorke's haul of 60.

Not that he is making a big deal of the prospect of creating a piece of club history.

When I mention Yorke's record to him, he asks: "How many do I need? How many games are left this season? I think I will have to start taking penalties!"

His tongue-in-cheek response possibly disguises the fact that Gabby would really like to pass Yorke's figure if only to avoid constantly being asked about it.

But his desire to score is about far more than personal satisfaction.

"It would be nice to break the record," he concedes, "but the only thing on my mind is keeping the club up. If the record comes, it comes.

"I still get a massive thrill when I get a goal. As an attacking player, you feel you are doing your part by scoring. But we have other players who can score goals, like Christian Benteke and Andi Weimann, and that has been a help.

"When you are playing as a winger the pressure is not on you to score as much as when you are playing as a lone striker. As long as I'm getting a few, I'm happy."

Gabby admits that when he scored on his debut at Goodison Park in March 2006 he never imagined he would go on to become the club's longest-serving player.

He has now made 279 league and cup appearances and the QPR game was his 250th start.

"You never think like that," he insists.

"All that has ever been on my mind is getting in the side for the next game. In football, you never know what's going to happen.

"It's been a crazy journey but the time has flown by but I've enjoyed every single bit of it. Long may it continue. I'm lucky to have been at a club like this for so long.

"I enjoy my football and I'm in the side. As long as that continues I would always want to stay. I've been with Villa since I was 13 and to still be here is a massive thing.

"I owe a lot to Martin O'Neill. I didn't play many times under David O'Leary after making my debut but when Martin came in he gave me a lot of chances.

"The highlight has to be getting to Wembley for the Carling Cup final. That was a big day for us all - the players, our families and friends, the fans.

"It was obviously disappointing to lose but it was a thrill to step out at Wembley. That was a big thing. Any player would want to do that - and we were unlucky not to win.

"But there have been lots of other things as well. My hat-trick against Manchester City was special, and so was scoring against Blues."

Agbonlahor is one of eight players to have netted a Premier League hat-trick for Villa and is the last player to have done so when he was on target three times in eight second-half minutes against City on the opening day on the 2008-09 campaign.

Although he has been less prolific in recent times, that's mainly because of the wider role he now occupies.

Even so, he has contributed some crucial goals this season, including two in the last two games.

"It's always good to score," he says.

"But it's not just about me. The whole team did are doing well. Everyone is fighting for the club."

Would he have liked to score the club's 1,000th Premier League goal, I wonder?

No, he replies, he was happy enough to see Benteke claim it, before quickly adding: "I was just happy to start the next thousand!"

Make sure you snap up tickets for Villa v Liverpool.

By @AVFCOfficial 19th March 2013
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